This series of books tells you how to take the roads less traveled to discover the beauty and history of the West.
By Jim Brightly, F358406
I’m a history buff. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a history scholar. I just love reading about the past. I also enjoy taking my Suburban out for a day “” or a weekend “” of four-wheeling the trails that lace the Western states. Fortunately, I’ve
The Backcountry Adventures series by Swagman Publishing includes five books that cover four-wheel-drive trails suitable for stock SUVs in Arizona, California (separate titles for Northern and Southern California), Colorado, and Utah. The large-format books, written by Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson, are filled with maps, directions, photographs, and historical information about the trails themselves and the sites they lead to.
Each book begins with some boilerplate information about four-wheeling; tips on how to use the book; and an explanation about the ratings, directions, and map references. It then provides historical backgrounds of the towns and sites along the trails. For example, the Utah book makes note of Mormon settlers as well as Butch Cassidy. Colorado’s colorful gunslingers, Arizona’s famous frontier towns, and California’s prospectors all figure into the stories in each respective book.
The flora and fauna that you’re likely to see on the trails are covered with text and photos. Interspersed throughout each book are hundreds of photos, about half of which are black-and-white historical images. The color photos show trail scenes as they appear today.
In each book the title state (or geographic division in California) is divided into logical regions with accompanying large-scale maps representing the areas. Each regional section includes the individual trails found in that area.
As mentioned earlier, only trails suitable for factory-stock four-wheel-drive SUVs are included in these books. The authors have visited, traveled, and documented each of these trails personally. Trails designed for more serious off-road enthusiasts are left to the buff books and magazines. If you tow a stock SUV behind your motorhome and plan on traveling in the states represented by one or more of these books, rest assured that you’ll enjoy exploring the trails listed with little or no difficulty.
Each trail listing includes a small-scale map and information about special attractions, history, current road conditions, contact information, and map references. Route directions give each intersection’s mileage starting from the trailhead, and GPS coordinates are scattered throughout the point-to-point directions. If you decide to travel the trail from the opposite direction, reverse mileage figures are printed in blue ink for easy reference.
All in all, if you tow an SUV; plan to spend time in Arizona, California, Colorado, or Utah; and would like to get away from the madding crowd on a four-wheel-drive ride, you owe it to yourself to add one or more of these fascinating publications to your mobile library. Printed on high-gloss paper with oversized flyleaves on each cover for easy place-finding, the books are priced at $34.95 ($29.95 for the Colorado edition) and are suitable for display.
The Backcountry Adventures series is available at bookstores, through online booksellers, or from Swagman Publishing at P.O. Box 519, Castle Rock, CO 80104; (800) 660-5107, (303) 660-3307; www.4wdbooks.com.